Frank Ocean is one of the most talked about artists in the music industry at the moment, following a Twitter revelation and the release of his debut album, ‘Channel Orange’.
Despite this being his first album, Frank Ocean is hardly a newcomer to the music scene. After moving to LA following on from Hurricane Katrina in his home town of New Orleans, he began writing songs for well known artists such as Justin Bieber, Brandy and John Legend.
His talent for songwriting didn’t go unnoticed and his mixtape ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ ended up in the hands of the right people. His soulful vocals will have been heard by millions on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed album ‘Watch The Throne’ where Ocean co-wrote ‘No Church In The Wild’ and ‘Made In America’.
With his debut album being much anticipated, Frank Ocean tweeted a link to his Tumblr showing a letter he had written months earlier, addressing the fact he had fallen in love with a man at the age of nineteen.
This confession was widely talked about on every level. Frank Ocean is one of the first big R&B artists to reveal (to a largely homophobic industry) that he had feelings for someone of the same sex. Most of the reception has been positive and only increased the publics’ desire to hear the album.
The majority of the tracks are slow and smooth, with poetic lyrics that need to be thought about to totally grasp the hidden themes of drug addiction, pimps and class divisions. Despite these rather somber underlying messages, the album still manages to remain upbeat.
‘Pyramids’ takes the top spot in my mind, with a beat that you can’t help but ‘do do do’ along to (you’ll understand when you hear it) and a seductive, slowed-down second half that you can’t help but move your hips to, it’s hard not to love. Despite it being a lengthy 9 minutes 53 seconds long, I will still happily listen to it on repeat.
The biggest downside to the album is the handful of interludes thrown into the mix. Admittedly, the concept of ‘Start’ and ‘End’ tapping into our subconscious database of sounds – the Playstation 1 start up sound being the highlight for me – is a good one. However, these tracks are the ones I usually skip right past.
John Mayer, Andre 3000 and Earl Sweatshirt appear on the album. But given Ocean’s chameleon like voice bringing something new to every track, I’m not sure the duets add a great deal to an already outstanding track listing.
Understandably, the album and Ocean’s style has been likened to that of Prince and Stevie Wonder; a just comparison given the undeniable quality of this young artist’s first solo project.
Both his voice and songwriting ability are flawless and his creative flair combined with a sensational vocal range make Channel Orange a potential musical masterpiece.